Custom Guitar Advice - Ibanez AT100 Style - Jemsite
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-25-2011, 10:26 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 9
Custom Guitar Advice - Ibanez AT100 Style

Hi All,

I'm planning on going for a custom guitar here in Australia because it should work out cheaper than buying an actual AT100CL from a retailer (I know, funny right?). I never expected to go for a custom but now that I am, I have far more flexibility in choosing parts and am looking for as much advice as possible.

Anyway, I mainly play at home and my current rig consists of:

*Blackstar HT-5RH
*Orange PPC 1x12 (V30)
*TC Electronic Flashback Delay
*TC Electronic Polytune
*ISP Decimator G String
*Dunlop Slash Crybaby
*Xotic BB Preamp - Comp
*T-Rex Fuel Tank Chameleon Power Supply

Some questions I have are:

1. With regards to the tremolo, I want something that holds tune very well and doesn't kill sustain. I don't need something that can be abused as I only ever use it for a bit of vibrato anyway. Ideally, it will also be fairly low maintenance and facilitate easy string changes. The options I have considered can be seen at Stewmac are:

*Wilkinson/Gotoh VS-100N Tremolo
*Wilkinson/Gotoh VSVG Vintage Tremolo
*Hipshot Tremolo

2. The DiMarzio Cruiser and AT-1 sound to me like very warm pickups, so I'm leaning towards an alder body/maple neck and fretboard combo, as it should give a nice balance. My current guitar is an RG1570 with a Basswood body and DiMarzio Liquifire and Crunch Lab combo, so I'm looking for something a bit different. I thought Mahogany/Rosewood might be a little too dark, but I'm open to suggestions.

3. Can someone please provide some more details about the 'treble bleed mod' I've heard about on Ibanez AT models?

4. With regards to locking tuners, I know the Ibanez AT models come with Sperzel locking tuners, but I watched a video where Andy mentions now having Gotoh tuners on his original AT100? I'm thinking I'll definitely go for locking tuners in combination with a bone, or maybe Graphtech nut, but am not sure which tuners offer the greatest stability?

5. As for the neck, I'm looking for something a bit different to the Wizard on my RG1570. I like the look of the specs on the Timmons model a lot. My hands are on the smaller side and I don't have particularly long fingers. I like that the width of the AT neck (particularly closer to the nut) is a few mm less than the Wizard and that the radius is quite a bit less. The Satriani neck is similar again but with an even smaller radius, which I was thinking my suit my hands even more, particularly for chording. Again, any advice on necks better for smaller hands would be appreciated.

All suggestions/advice recommended and for what it's worth, the builder I'm looking to go with is ET Guitars as I can get there by train in 3 hours. I have contacted Ernie and so far he's been very helpful!

Last edited by anthony.morrissey; 12-25-2011 at 10:43 PM.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-26-2011, 01:46 PM
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: UK
Posts: 1,641
Re: Custom Guitar Advice - Ibanez AT100 Style

As regards the bridge, get a VS401. Its basically a VS100, the difference is the trem bar drops into the end of the bridge block, and the tension is adjusted by a grub screw from the rear. Its the best trem bar I've ever seen. Bridge wise, its got nice, modern saddles that lock down properly, and its a 2 post rather than 6 screw (or 4 screw) mounting. Much more stable tuning when using the bar this way.

2 - The combo you've listed should give a great sound, with plenty of bite. It'll be sharper than mahogany (which can be really muddy), without being overly brittle.

3 - The treble bleed mod actually exists on most ibanez models. All it means is that unlike most gutiars, where rolling down the volume also darkens the tone, the circuit is modified so that the volume changes without affecting the tone. Personally, I actually prefer guitars without it. I find that I use the volume mostly for either swells, where the darker start sounds good, or for cleaning up, where, once again, a darker sound usually sounds sweeter.

4 - I'd recommend a bone nut or bone substitute. Graphite nuts are very soft, so they wear fast and don't offer the greatest sustain on open notes. With a straight string pull at the headstock, the tuning should remain as stable as anyone would ever need. The harder material will help you achieve an even tone across the neck. Or you could try brass, which would be quite bright but, being metal, would mean your tone would be about the same between nut and frets.

5 - I've found that the most comfortable all around neck profile is actually about 21mm at the nut and 22 or so at the body, with a softened "C" carve. The flat backs on ibanez necks irritate me and don't either fill the hand or offer support. Get Ernie to show you some necks built to more traditional measurements. Over time I've found them much better than super thin necks, and I own a super wizard, so this isn't a one time comparison.

Radius wise, I think my favourite radius is anywhere between 12 and 14. People will tell you flatter is better, in my experience thats just not true, its only a concern for people who are, frankly, far too much of a goddamned ***** to learn to play with slightly thicker strings and a slightly higher action. I moved from 9's on flat necks to 11's on rounder, 12" or so necks, and I've never looked back. If i'd stuck with 9 guage strings I'd choke out and my action would be too high, but with the thicker strings its just perfect and gives the guitars an awesome meaty feel, you can really dig in and feel the music instead of playing like a robot.

You'll also find a meatier neck offers some really awesome tonal benefits and will soften that clinky clanky attack some thinner necks have.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-27-2011, 11:54 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 9
Re: Custom Guitar Advice - Ibanez AT100 Style

Thanks so much fo your detailed response GuitarBizarre! I checked out that bridge and it looks amazing. Vintage kind of look and a modern feel. As for the treble bleed mod, I'd likely go for 2 volume and 1 tone control. I like to turn the volume down on the neck pickup so as to warm it up a bit. So having a master volume knob and then a specific one for the neck pickup would be great. I'd have to consider whether the treble bleed would actually be something I'd want. I'm not totally sure if my RG1570 has this or not.

The neck shape you have described sounds very much like the neck on the Timmons model. Given my desire to make chording easier for my smaller hands, this sort of size/shape would be ideal I think. I'd definitely suss out some neck profiles before making a final decision though.

I currently play a set of ernie ball hybrids 9-46, but would look into possibly moving to 10's if it would give a substantial improvement in tone, combined with a bit thicker neck and a nice bone nut.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-28-2011, 04:33 PM
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: UK
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Re: Custom Guitar Advice - Ibanez AT100 Style

You can get RG wiring schematics from the ibanez website. If theres a capacitor attached to the volume pot, it has a treble bleed. I know my 550 (and all other 550s) does, so I'd be surprised if yours doesn't.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-28-2011, 06:49 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 9
Re: Custom Guitar Advice - Ibanez AT100 Style

Unfortunately I don't have access to a computer atm (Browsing on an older Blackberry through the mobile network, which struggles enough with Jemsite haha) so I'll have to look up that schematic when I get home.

As for the bridge, I have a couple more questions. Will there be a substantial difference in tone between the VSVG and the VS401? Also, there are a few different versions of the VS401 (My post count is too low to post links, but please see the Whamster Wilkinson site) so I was wondering if one particular version had any particular tonal, sustain or tuning stability benefits?

With regards to machine heads, I've been looking into various options. I'm set on using locking machine heads with an 18:1 gear ratio. Planet waves have ones that cut the string for you, but Hipshot are also really good from other sources I've read. I've also come across staggered machine heads from certain brands which eliminate the need for a string tree. Is there any particular benefit to using these, other than say reduced friction behind the nut which should in theory give greater return to pitch when bending?

Thanks again for your input!
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-31-2011, 01:08 AM Thread Starter
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Posts: 9
Re: Custom Guitar Advice - Ibanez AT100 Style

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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-01-2012, 07:24 PM
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Re: Custom Guitar Advice - Ibanez AT100 Style

The VS401 is one bridge, it only comes in different colours, and there's an option with vintage saddles. I don't think the VSVG will be much worse, but I think its a definite downgrade from the VS401. 6 screw mounts are not a good idea, from an engineering standpoint.

I don't think they'll sound too different, but I think the tuning will be better on the modern version (VS401 rather than VS401V)

As for tuning keys - Having a smaller tuning ratio, or a larger one, only affects how quickly you can tune a string to pitch. Good tuners will hold pitch and you'll be able to tune as easily with any. I'd not recommend considering ratio when buying.

What I would recommend considering is Gotoh magnum lock tuners. They lock the capstan in place, not just the string, so in theory they should be more solid and provide better vibration transfer.

As for not having string trees - use the staggered tuners. There's just no argument here. They are BETTER. Every time.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-18-2012, 05:45 PM
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 143
Re: Custom Guitar Advice - Ibanez AT100 Style

Regarding the DiMarzio AT-1:

I have one in a custom strat which is mahogany body / maple neck / ebony fretboard. I really like the sound of the AT-1. I wouldn't call it dark sounding, the highs definitely come through nice and clearly, probably due to the ebony. Rosewood might be a different matter though.

I don't have it with me at the moment or I would record some samples :/
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